Cyclospora Contaminated Salads at McDonald’s Restaurants
Salads at numerous McDonald’s restaurants around the country have been contaminated with Cyclospora cayetanensis, which is a microscopic parasite. The United States Food and Drug Administration is investigating claims of cyclosporiasis, the illness caused by Cyclospora consumption. Those individuals who consumed the contaminated salads and became ill may be eligible for compensation.
Cyclospora may cause illness when the parasite contaminates water or food and is subsequently ingested by humans. Over a few days or even a few weeks, after the parasite has passed through the bowels, the parasite may be transferred to another individual. It is not likely that the parasite is passed through direct contact.
Which McDonald’s restaurants were impacted?
McDonald’s restaurants in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin have reportedly been affected by the parasite. Each of 286 lab-confirmed cases stemmed from one of these restaurants; the consumers purchased salads from these locations.
At this point, it is not clear which specific ingredient in the salad is responsible for the outbreak. The FDA is carefully studying the components of the salads and is reviewing supplier and distribution data as well.
What are the signs of Cyclosporiasis?
The majority of those diagnosed with cyclosporiasis report diarrhea, which at times may be explosive in nature. Other symptoms include:
- Stomach cramps and pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Flu-like symptoms
- Body aches
These symptoms may linger for up to a month. It is not uncommon for symptoms to come and go.
If you consumed a salad at a McDonald’s location in one of the above-mentioned states and experienced signs of cyclosporiasis, you should contact a medical professional as soon as possible.
Proper restaurant sanitation, food handling, and hand washing techniques help prevent the spread of Cyclospora.
Can restaurants be held liable for food contamination?
Restaurants must follow certain rules, regulations, and guidelines regarding the preparation of food, cleaning and sanitizing food preparation surfaces, storing food, and a number of other actions that impact the health of consumers. If these restaurants do not follow these rules, they may be liable for a consumer’s injuries in a negligence lawsuit.
In a negligence lawsuit, such as a personal injury lawsuit, the injured victim must show:
- The defendant owed a duty to the victim;
- This duty was breached due to the defendant’s negligent act or omission; and
- Due to the defendant’s negligence, the victim suffered damages.
All three elements must be supported by evidence for an injured victim to prevail in a claim. If one of the elements cannot be supported, the case will fail. The court will dismiss the case and the victim will not be able to recover any compensation from the defendant.
With food poisoning cases, the duty the restaurant owes the victim (most likely a patron of that restaurant) is to follow all applicable rules and guidelines in preparing and serving food. The restaurant employees must act in a manner that is reasonable under the circumstances according to the restaurant industry.
A breach of this duty may include a number of different actions or omissions. For example, perhaps certain types of food items should be thrown out after a specific amount of time to avoid contamination. If the restaurant did not follow this guideline and restaurant patrons became ill, the restaurant may be liable for any damages the patrons suffered, such as medical bills.
As for damages, a food poisoning victim may be impacted in numerous ways, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- The need for future medical care
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- If a death has occurred, burial and funeral expenses, plus the estimated value of the deceased’s future earnings, may be claimed.
Additional types of compensation may also be available, depending on the facts of the case.
However, restaurants are not the only entities that may be liable for foodborne illnesses. The suppliers and distributors that provide food items to restaurants may also be liable for damages. For example, perhaps a salad dressing supplier failed to store its products properly and the dressing became contaminated. If a restaurant purchased its salad dressing from this supplier and its guests became ill, the supplier may face liability.
In these claims, the case would likely proceed as a products liability claim. In a products liability case, an injured plaintiff must show:
- A product was being used as directed or as anticipated by the manufacturer;
- The product was defective;
- The product’s defective nature led to the victim’s injuries; and
- The victim was harmed.
Each of these factors must be proven for a victim to prevail in a products liability claim. If the victim cannot prove one of these elements, the claim fails and the victim is not entitled to any compensation from the manufacturer. With the assistance of an experienced attorney, prevailing in a claim is much more likely.
Do I need an attorney if I suffered a foodborne illness?
If you are ever injured through no negligence of your own, it is wise to have a lawyer review the facts of your case and determine if you may be entitled to compensation. In many situations, it is possible to link your symptoms to an outbreak of a bacterium, parasite, or other microorganism at a restaurant. Often, your local health department (and a number of other agencies) may investigate the outbreak, providing clues as to what caused your illness—and what entity may be legally responsible.
Without an experienced injury attorney, you may not ever learn that someone else’s negligence is responsible for your illness. You would pay all of your medical expenses out of pocket, and you may lose income at your job. The entity that caused your injuries would never be held responsible for injuring you and other consumers.
Both negligence lawsuits and products liability lawsuits are handled on a contingency fee basis. In other words, you will not owe any attorneys’ fees unless you win your case. You do not have to worry about paying monthly bills to an attorney or accumulating a large bill on your credit card—you simply pay a percentage of your award or settlement at the end of your case.
There are deadlines in place that restrict how long you have to file a McDonald’s Cyclospora poisoning lawsuit. These critical deadlines are called the statute of limitations. If a claimant misses the statute of limitations, the claimant may never be able to file a claim against the at-fault party. Therefore, it is important to meet an attorney as soon as possible if you believe that you have consumed contaminated food. If you delay too long, you could hurt your case. The opposing party will try to argue that your injuries were not serious since you waited to file your claim, and, worse, the longer you wait, the more likely it is that witnesses forget important details or relocate.
At Parker Waichman LLP, Experienced in Food Poisoning Lawsuit Lawyers
At Parker Waichman LLP, our Cyclospora lawsuit lawyers have pursued claims against restaurants, food suppliers, and other entities whose negligence has resulted in foodborne illnesses. To schedule a free consultation with our experienced legal team, call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) today.
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